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Tag Archives: Neil Williman
When I watched ski movies growing up I always thought that it was some kind of magic. I thought that the guys and girls featured in them got magically transported to the sunniest spots with the best snow, a really talented filmer/editor and then stomped everything first time without fear or hesitance. Turns out it's not like that, a lot of luck and hard work have to come together to turn all the effort of getting there and timing it right into a usable shot. Only one thing needs to go wrong with the skiing, filming, snow conditions, timing, weather or light for the shot to be demoted to B roll status, where hopefully something about it will be funny and then it can roll with the credits. I know that this is a bit of a typical rant and I will end it with the sterotypical 'but getting the shot makes it all worthwhile' line, but I guess I'm writing it for people that ever wondered what actually goes on behind the scenes of ski movies, 'cause it can be a bit of an emotional rollercoaster. So let me tell you a story about the last film trip of the year that I went on, to film for Whiteroom Productions next movie with Raphi Webhofer and filmer Jonas Abenstein.
So we were meant to be flying to Norway for a week of touring and a bit of heli time, but just before we were meant to go the weather forecast told us that it was going to be snowing for pretty much every day that we would be there. So last minute we grabbed the Whiteroom Productions camper van and headed over the border to St Moritz and the Engadin Valley. Raphi and I had already been there on separate trips during the season, but since they had had the biggest total snowfall in over 50 years and had mainly sun in the forecast for the next week it was an opportunity not to poke a ski stick at. The photo above is of us checking out the sunset on the first night after scoping some lines, glad that we had made the difficult call not to chase the expensive dragon to Norway. The photo below is the line that we had found and decided to ski together- an exposed shelf finishing in a compulsory air, that turned out to be bigger than it had looked through our binoculars, and with a rockier take-off and landing.
So where to from here? I wanted to ski more faces because I'm not as good at tricks as Raphi and he had been getting better shots than me. We met up with local friend Lukas Swieykowski to check out some new zones and I found a line that I have to ski one day, full on life goal. The light had run out by the time I saw it, but it will still be there next year.
Lukas put us up for a couple of days while he was showing us around, thanks buddy! We found this zone with him too, and salivated, all picking different lines off the bat.
My good ski buddy @raphaelwebhofer on top of a peak we toured near St Moritz in April, and on a better day this caption would've read something cheesy like 'the days we ski for'. We'd been living in a camper for a week looking for lines to film for #whiteroomproductions before finally finding this zone, but the variable snow sent Raphi to hospital with a broken hip after a scary fall. Shaken after helping the medics load him pale but smiling into the heli I was left contemplating what rewards we were looking for in return for these risks, and how I'll feel next time I stand on top of a serious line. Midsummer has been and gone since then without a conclusion reached, other than that the goddess of snow can be a feisty and unreasonable mistress, and it is something in that renders me helpless- unable not to heed her call when she beckons.
Here are a couple of magazine articles that got published recently, I got an interview in the Chill magazine about my season on the FWT, with photos by Tom Platts, Mickey Troja and Martin Erd, as well as an article that Tove Kockum and I wrote about our trip to South America last season, it'll be getting published online soon too! Grab a copy of the magazines of a ski selling shelf near you to check them out in full.
So Whiteroom Productions has generously let me use the footage from filming with them last season in combination with shots that I got myself and with friends to release a Best of 2013 edit online! It's really good of them since the movie is still touring and won't be released on the internet until Spring (when it will be free!).
But here is my take on how much fun I can have on skis with my friends, compressed into 2 minutes something. One of the things I'm most proud of about this edit is that I also competed a lot during that season and qualified for the Freeride World Tour, but none of these shots are from competitions!
Best viewed in full-screen at at least 480p quality (full screen and quality control buttons are at the bottom right of the video, and full screen must be selected first). I hope you enjoy watching as much as I enjoyed making it.
After leaving Canada (where the 1st FWT stop was postponed until March) I got back to Sweden, bought a car with my girlfriend Tove and drove down to Austria. The car broke down 30km short of our destination of Innsbruck, which is good luck or bad luck depending on how you look at things :)
Once we got down we got about skiing as much as possible as soon as possible. Luckily we were staying with friends in Götzens who lived at the bottom of one of the only local resorts with good snow- we had some great days at Axamer Lizum. Here are some of our favourite pics.
We got to go filming in South Tirol (Italy) with Whiteroom Productions for a day too, it was really deep!
So I was feeling pretty good after all this skiing, strong and confident. Off to Courmayeur, Italy for the first stop of the Freeride World Tour next, since the first FWT stop in Revelstoke was postponed till March.
So yep first competition here in Courmayeur, Italy tomorrow and then probably Chamonix, France on Saturday, wish me luck :)
Words by me, photos by everyone in the blog.
As many of the events in my life seem to go, this was an unplanned, super lucky, sometimes stressful but very eventful week- an 8 day roadtrip from Bariloche, Argentina and back. Up the Argentinean side of the Andes and down the Chilean side with aplenty closed passes, long colouirs, touring volcanoes and getting lost in beautiful backwater farming villages, where learning Spanish on the fly was the only way to get directions out.
How did it start? We met 4 friendly Americans in Bariloche and they just happened to want to go to Portillo, Chile the same as us- where another friend of mine Andrew Rumph had recommended us to come visit him. Turned out they had already looked into renting a car and two more was not a crowd, so not long after we were departing in a mighty 7 seat Kangoo, with skis packed inside and outside the roof as taught to me by Austrian Kangoo master Fabian Lentsch, thanks buddy. It was a long overnight drive to Mendoza but my turn to drive came just in time to catch one of the most beautiful sunrises I have ever seen, complete with a full moon and wild Argentinean countryside.
As one makes the pilgrimage from the Los Pampas province of Argentina to that of Los Andes Mendoza is the gateway city between the plains and the mountains. An old and beautiful city of award winning architecture it has a large Chilean population due to its proximity to the border, meaning that our arrival on the 19th of September was high on festivities and low on vacancies- it was Chile’s national day. The hostel that we managed to find space for all 6 of us (in different rooms) was near to a city park, a park filled with music, dancing, flags and of course several large farms worth of ‘carne’. It seems the Chileans place meat at the bottom of the food pyramid as much as Argentineans, as in 5 plus a day, which may be why the local Argentines seemed fine with the celebrations that were the equivalent of a Canada day party in the USA.
The next day we planned to cross into Chile by one of the few passes through the Andes, bound for Portillo ski resort, which is pretty much a hotel with ski lifts located just on the Chilean side of the pass. But as we prepared to leave the hostel the friendly receptionist found out that the pass was closed due to heavy snowfall! Being mid September (which is Spring to all you Northern Hemisphere-ies) and only a week before the resort shut down for the season this was a shock in more ways than one- suddenly there was epic pow at our destination, but we couldn’t get to it. The options were few, it would’ve taken over 35 hours to get to Portillo by either of the other closest two passes, and so we drove up to the border town of Uspallata to line up with the stranded Chilean families, play tag in the gravel, cross our fingers and twiddle our thumbs. The news was bad the first morning- it was Saturday and they said the pass would be closed until Monday. Gutted and plan-less we returned to the hostel that we had arrived at late the night before to reconsider our options, or lack thereof. As we sat down for a mate (Argentinean caffeinated tea) one of the border workers came in to see his friend that worked there and told us that it would actually open Sunday morning. Stoking out that we hadn’t immediately begun driving for one of the other passes we made the most of our free day by going horse riding. Argentinean style there was no safety briefing- the local gaucho simply asked in Spanish if we had any experience, though whichever answer we gave was simply acknowledged with a curt nod and no further instructions.
The next morning we up and at ‘em early, arriving in the first queue of cars (that grew to 6 lanes), waiting for the hooter from the road control workers to begin attacking the road to the pass in a fashion similar to the intro of the Flintstones. When the time came we were quick off the mark but eventually passed by many due to our seemingly uncommon lack of desire to drive on the wrong side of the road around blind corners. The border itself brought further challenges as one of our American friends had overstayed his visa in Argentina. He seemed pretty un-phased in my eyes since I’ve had a friend get a 10 year ban from the USA for the same thing and when they dropped the bomb that it was a 30,000 peso fine I thought that things were about to get serious. Turns out that 30,000 Chilean peso is only $70 NZD (€45), not the $7000 NZD that it would’ve been if we were talking Argentinean peso. Sprits instantly rose as we were through the last of the barriers separating us from Portillo and epic untouched powder, and it turned out that none of the other cars in the queue were on their way to the ski resort!
As we had been waiting in the long single file for the border I had been eyeing the mountains around us in awe and wishing that we could ski them, they were huge and steep and I immediately understood how difficult it would be to keep this pass open in a storm. One epic looking face appeared to have avalanche debris at the bottom, but no evidence of a slide above it. As we drew closer though we realised that the ‘debris’ were ski tracks, it was Portillo! The lift had been difficult to see because it is a ‘slingshot’ instead of a chairlift, which is like a cross between a cable car and a T-bar. There are two bars hanging from the cables, each of which has 5 poma attached to it (shafts with button shaped ends to ‘sit’ on), and the poma bars and at opposite ends of the cable, meaning that as one goes up the other is coming down. These are almost apologetically placed in the heart of the intimidating Andes range as if in an attempt not to offend it, and since the majority of ski-able faces are at the bottom of potential avalanche paths it seems that this design is also to facilitate ease of transport if necessary, or at least less expensive replacement. There is a chairlift as well though and we gravitated to it immediately after arriving just in time for a half day ticket. There was an unskied chute directly under the chair that finished with a mandatory air, it was love at first run. I found out afterwards that it was a permanently closed area but the forgiveness that I didn’t have to beg was far easier than the permission that I didn’t ask. I met up with my American instructor friend Andrew Rumph and he showed us around to more epic spots, and took me shooting with his pro photog friend- who turned out to be the photographer for the USA ski team that were training there. We skied without a break until the lifts closed at 5pm, one of the best days of the season.
We got a couple more shots with Andrew's friend Jonathan, who I found out afterwards is the photographer for the US ski racing team and the first guy to get a racing shot on the cover of Powder magazine! So I'm hoping to see them published somewhere in the future.
Portillo is one of the most beautiful and scenic resorts I have even had the visited, and the grandeous hotel at the base made full use of the view with huge windows and an outdoor swimming pool and hot tubs. It was from these tubs that Andrew peeled a finger off his cold beer and pointed out ‘Super C’, a 1200 vertical metre colouir that was a slingshot ride and a ridge hike away. It barely ever saw the sun and the recent snowfall had loaded it with deep, well bonded snow. We had originally been planning to spend 3 days in Portillo, which the pass closure had reduced by one, and Super C seemed like the obvious option for our second and final day there, so the beers were cheers’d to it and the thighs given a nervous rub of steep&deep hiking anticipation. We had met one of Andrew’s friends Jake skiing the day before, who worked reception at the hotel, and he joined the team for the morning mission as the only member to have made the hike before. It was good that he did as we valued the extra pair of legs, it took about 4 hours of straight bookpacking to slog up the steep face of knee to thigh deep snow and we were all exhausted at the top. Tove had tweaked her knee in the heavier snow of the late afternoon the day before and made the tough call not to come. With impressive views of Aconcagua (the highest mountain in South America) and mild altitude nausea on my part we readied ourselves to drop in for one of the longest continuous pow runs of my life, past and future. It was amazing and steep and deep and it kept on going and going and going. There were hoots, hollers, hugs and blatant disregard for getting as much footage as it deserved, this was a time to ski for ourselves, runs like this don’t happen every season. I found out later that Chris Davenport had previously visited Portillo for 2 weeks and hiked Super C 9 times, and I wasn’t the least bit surprised. After we left Andrew and Jack used our bootpack to get up there twice more during closing week, and I’m glad to have been able to leave that behind for them in return for the local knowledge of it being there. Thanks again guys.
My first gif animation- the even better type of faceshot.
That evening we said our farewells and drove through the night to Pucon, to maximise the rest of the days that the Mighty Kangoo rental was available to us. Chile is much greener than Argentina and our journeys would take us into the thermal areas of hot springs, volcanoes and dirt roads to borders. Stay tuned for the next update!
Words and photos by Neil Williman and Tove Kockum
So far Argentina has been so exciting, skiing for the first time in a few months and meeting new amazing people. But also it’s been a week to learn how to adapt to a new culture, the very relaxed Patagonian style. Things take their time and you just have to let it flow that way. No need to stress. There’s always time to have a Mate (traditional hot herb drink) or some Dulce De Leche on a cookie. People are very friendly and as a visitor in their country I feel warmly welcomed. Family time here seems more important than sitting by the TV, computer or phone. A good example is the birthday party we went to the other day. It was held in a house on the backyard built with the purpose to drink Mate in, have a barbeque or a party. This is apparently very common in Argentina, to have a hangaround house in your garden.
On Thursday we went riding at Cerro Bayo together with Colin Boyd (FWT snowboarder) and his Argentinean girlfriend Sofie that we stayed with in Wanaka last season. This daytrip was an unexpected surprise and Cerro Bayo turned out to be a freeride paradise! It was only an hour drive from Bariloche but the locals there don’t seem to have discovered what this year’s new gondola has to offer. We scored some fresh snow and a blue bird day with no queues so definitely a day we’ll remember for a long time. With the stunning backdrop we decided to get the camera out, check out what we got below.
Tove getting some
Yesterday we were back on our touring skis, and they were back on our backs. Niki joined us for another mission with James and Lucas, this time touring off the back of Cerro Catedral (Bariloche’s local resort). We were lucky and needed their local-ness to get a one ride pass because they had to convince the lady that we were going cross country skiing on the tracks at the top of the gondola. We started our mission in a milk bowl with absolutely no visibility but we got lucky and the sky opened for us just in time for a sketchy rock scramble over to a good run. The rain crust was still lurking at variable depths under the dry pow meaning that we couldn’t quite ski full speed or drop anything more than a few metres, but the deep turns that we got kept smiles on our faces for most of the skin back to the resort. A 2 day storm was coming in, dropping crazy snowflakes that looked like bean-bag filling, and the thoughts of family fire time with Mate and Dulce de Leche cookies lured us home to bed for a day off.
Making the most of a small hole in the clouds
Niki dropping in Patagonian style
And then it snowed a bunch and we went on another amazing trip! Tove wrote the following words:
Frey Frey Frey, where to begin with you? Well for us it started at a bongo drums party for a friend of a friend that were celebrating that his girlfriend got pregnant. After the party we got a text from Colin Boyd (FWT snowboarder and friend) saying his crew were heading to Refugio Frey (a backcountry hut) tomorrow and that we were welcome to join if we feel like it. Absolutely we thought! Getting to Frey was interesting; first we had to convince the ticket lady that we were going cross country skiing so we could get a one ride pass for the Gondola. It was only a short tour from the top of the lift to the ridge and drop in but we managed to get lost because the visibility was soooo bad, it was like skiing in a milk bowl with no tasty cereals in it. But then something amazing happened, the light popped and the cereals appeared everywhere! It was suddenly a bluebird powder day and we were the first to get to the saddle that divided Cerro Catedral from the back country and the valley that led to Frey. Eric Hjorleifson and Jen Ashton were next to drop, that felt good.
It had snowed 2 days before but the resort had been tracked in low light since then and we had no expectations on the snow quality just over the ridge, so after our first run of deep dry pow we got to the bottom in stuttering, stoked shock. The sky was clearing too and we immediately made way to the next ridge to harvest more dream conditions before moving onto a small river crossing, tight tree navigation and the Frey valley itself.
Niki the monkey man showing us his secret spotts
Neil getting tangled up in the bush while crossing a river
We arrived at Frey with still a few hours of light left so we had a quick Mate and headed out for some more powder skiing. We started touring up a step beautiful face but then eventually had to start boot packing up. Niki the monkey was leading the track and we got to a pretty icy part, our token snowboarder was doing really well in snowboard boots but just as we said so he slipped on the hidden ice and fell over some rocks, his back pack with an attached snowboard got caught and he dislocated his shoulder. He was screaming “mi hombro” but we thought he was saying “mi hombre” which means ’my man’ or ‘my friend’. Hmm we were very confused for a second but soon realized he meant his shoulder. Neil turned into a ski patrol hero and after two tries relocated his shoulder into the right position. There were immediate hugs and cheers, followed by a very relieved and mellow run back to the hut for him and Neil, while Niki and I continued hiking to the top of the face.
Here’s a photo of Tove skiing down, it was steep, fluffy and a superb last run.
With legs tired like over boiled spaghetti we headed back the hut. Dinner was ready to be served which tonight was soup, risotto, pizza and desert and it only costs us about 7 €.
We woke up with the wind shaking the little hutt and the clouds hanging like a napkin over the mountains. But we headed out and again the sky opened for us and we scored a long nice run. After that I decided to start the tour back to the resort but Neil and Niki went for one more run in a nice colouir. The tour back worked my legs pretty good and getting to the top was a relief. Niki and Neil were not far behind me and I knew they haven’t had anything to eat in a long time so I left some salty biscuits in the touring tracks for them to snack on. They were stoked!
Back for one more
We got back to Cerro Catedral after closing and felt happy, exhausted and filled with new good memories. Although we just realized we didn’t have a ride home and thought it was going to be tricky to find a way down the mountain. We got lucky and found a ride down to the roundabout and from there a friendly guy picked us up in his tiny car but we managed to fit all of us and all our gear. On the way home we did a necessary stop at the supermarket and bought stuff to fill our empty bellies with tasty treats and amazing Argentinean meat.
Frey, Frey, Frey, what an incredible place. Just waking up in the morning and picking your lines by looking out the window while drinking your Mate. I’ll definitely come back.
Roadtrip on the cards next!
Well it's been an eventful 100 hours! 3 beautiful cities on 3 different continents, a bus ride the width of Argentina and a beautiful day ski touring in Bariloche. Lots of craze-mazing experiences and a bit of no-comprendo induced stress, summed up as best we can in the photos below- there were a lot of favourites to choose from.
Wednesday: Flew from Stockholm to New York. Found out we had a 10 hour stopover and that Manhattan was only a 40 minute train ride away. Took that train to town, turned out it was a beautiful sunny day and rode around on an open top bus listening to a tour guide while eating fresh strawberries. Followed it up with the tastiest and most authentic Mexican food and beer I've ever had, and made it back to the airport in time for a beautiful sunset.
Thursday: Flew to Buenos Aires. Got a bus into the city center and then walked around looking like confused tourists while carrying extremely heavy ski bags. Eventually found the ginormous inter-city bus terminal and realised that we were probably just about to miss the bus from Buenos Aires (east coast of Argentina) to San Carlos de Bariloche (in the Andes, on the border with Chile), which was our final destination. Got to the bus 10 mins late. The bus was 30 minutes late. Got told (in rapid Spanish) that our bags were too big. Paid 100 peso each ($20 NZD) to get him to put them on the bus, which he put in his pocket in front of us. Lost our tickets for 5 minutes and almost got left behind. Found them, got on the bus, got over our heart attacks and settled in for the ride. Turned out it was a 'first class' bus- seats that reclined to 160 degrees, regular meal and drink service (including some crazy Argentinian wine spirit), movies and on-board toilet. Luxury for two tired travelers!
Friday: Woke up in time to savour the rest of the 22 hour bus ride as we rolled up the last of the desert plains to the impending Andes range, which radiated a distinct Mordor-like aura as heavy black stormclouds brooded over them. Got really excited! Arrived at the bus stop, tipped a guy 4 peso (90 NZ cents) for carrying our ski bags (which were now ~40kg each, as we had added our carry-on bags from the plane), and then somehow fitted them in a tiny taxi to town, which cost 30 peso ($6.50 NZD). Our local friend and my Fischer Skis teamate Niki Salencon picked us up in the worst car that I've ever seen to cost €3000 (Argentinian import tax has gone into overdrive to protect their crippled economy and anything not made in the country has become insanely expensive) and took us almost directly to the climbing gym and then a bar, where we met some of his other local friends- who immediately invited us to join them on a back country mission the next day. How could the 1st chapter of this trip get any better?
Saturday: First day skiing South America! It reminded me a lot of 'backcountry' skiing in NZ, which meant we drove up an non-maintained 4WD track as far as we could and then hiked for an hour or two with our skis on our bags to get to the snow. Once we got there we were stoked though, toured up through a magical forest to a very wintery ridge system. There had been some recent heavy snow and so the avalanche danger confined us to low angle skiing, but to be sliding on soft white stuff got us so stoked, having just come from northern hemisphere summer! Tired and satisfied we stumbled back to the truck and home for our first southern hemisphere shower, a sleep, and dreams that the month to come on this continent would be as much fun as getting here. Chapter 2 already in the making....
Summer in Sweden has been treating me super well, I've had time to rehab my body, hit a water ramp to learn some new tricks and start up an Instagram account. Check out this banner of my instagram page and get at me with a follow to see super arty and up to the minute images of me frothing for winter- my Instagram name is neilwilliman, because I'm so original.
And here's a wee video of jumping on the water ramp:
Plus some pictures that I got pubished in the NZSkier magazine and NZ Snowguide magazines that were released recently:
This is what the trailer looks like! It got released recently, and I'm pretty stoked. Check it out below, as well as the wee montage I made of which shots are me. Enjoy!
And this is how it felt to help make it:
This was my first season filming with a pro ski movie company. I always thought that the film trips would be entertaining; an easily captured adventure with ups and downs, crazy characters met along the way, a lot of laughs and everything always working out in the end, like an episode of 'Family Guy'.
It turns out that they are difficult to plan, hard work and sometimes just don’t turn out how you want no matter how hard you try. Like trying to get laid. But this just means that it feels even sweeter when it works out and you get the moneyshot.
‘Whiteroom Productions‘ is the film company, named after their successful debut movie 'Time for the Whiteroom' from last season. The man behind the camera and in the editing suite for both movies is Simon Platzer of SP Films. They are Austrian based and film mostly with Austrian skiers (and sometimes snowboarders), but I was lucky enough to get the invite this season after meeting them when they visited New Zealand, thanks in large part to my Austrian based ski sponsor Fischer.
After seeing their first movie I was really impressed at what they were achieving on a pretty limited budget, and they took it to the next level this year, turning up in New Zealand and camping on the Tasman Glacier below Mt Cook (NZ’s highest mountain) for a week and touring/climbing to all the lines that they shot. The weather forecast was pretty unfriendly but they stayed anyway and it turned out they were just high enough that it snowed there while it rained on all the ski resorts in the country- and then went unexpectedly bluebird. I was pretty inspired by their get-it-done attitude and thanks to the financial nod from Fischer I found myself on a plane with them on the way to Canada to film for a couple of weeks.
First sights of Canada
The reputed new powder haven of Canada was our first stop. Fabi (Fabian Lentsch) and I were pretty happy to finally arrive after the 9 hour Greyhound bus ride from Vancouver. We were actually a day late as well, as we had been denied boarding on our flight from Barcelona when we arrived 55mins before departure (instead of an hour), resulting in a day long man-date in the city. This was just after a 4* FWQ competition in Andorra including an afterparty where my wallet was stolen, preceded by a 14 drive from Innsbruck. So we were happiest to see the hostel beds for a night, to prepare for the upcoming week of solid film days.
The experience of the others having been there for a couple of days already meant we knew exactly where to go though, Dani (Daniel Regensburger), Jochen (Mesle) and Simon (Platzer, of Simon Platzer films) took us directly to the Cat Skiing area which borders Revelstoke Mountain Resort. The avalanche danger was high and there had been a recent death in the backcountry so we were confined to the trees for the first few days, but they provided the pillow powder goodness of my Canadian dry dreams in abundance.
One of the sick pillow zones
A blunt and to the point Canadian sign
Jochen walking the pillow talk
Fabi's turn to go big on the pillows
I was struggling to get used to my new touring setup at first, and since touring to film lines means only 3 or 4 get done a day it took a couple of days to start feeling it. Dani got unlucky and landed on a tree so hard that it broke the heelpiece of his boot, meaning he had to ski rentals for the rest of the trip but Jochen style-mastered off everything and Fabi started getting ridiculous, picking and stomping some of the rowdiest tree/pillow lines I’ve ever seen with my own eyes. After 3 days in this zone the filmable lines were becoming sparse, and we were creeping closer and closer to the terrain that cat skiing clients were paying to ride. The cat skiing groomer drivers and guides that had turned a blind eye to us until now eventually gave us a pretty clear indication that they wanted us to move on, which Fabi bore the brunt of pretty well. A new adventure was needed.
The friendly ex-patriot German who ran the hostel we were staying in in Revelstoke knew a guy who had built his own mini snow cat, which he called his ‘kitty’. Just over half an hour drive from Revelstoke is a snowmobile-permitted, easy access backcountry area that the locals politely asked us not to name here. The guy with the kitty also had a snowmobile (‘sled’ in Canadian) and a big tent and would take us all to the top for a price. It was a match made in Canadian heaven and our new adventure was found.
Dani Following the sleds
Our entourage with all the kit
This mystery mountain wasn’t one to put out one the first date though, and she made us work for it big time. The kitty and the sled both broke down at some point on the first day and there was so much snow from the last storm that it was difficult to get around on them even when they were going, or even to ski tour instead. The first zone we got to looked good but all the landings were flat as a car park and confiscated our skis more than once. Pitching the tent that would be our home for the next few days in the near-dark wasn’t easy either, and the cooker that we had didn’t do much to heat the inside, meaning that any wet clothes not worn in the sleeping bag froze solid overnight. There wasn’t a lot of talk over breakfast and our boots were about as easy to put on as a straightjacket.
Camo-Jeremy fixing the kitty, tent in the background
Nightlife in the tent
Once we got out and about though we realised that we had made the right choice. Rising majestically above a sea of valley fog the sail shaped peak we beheld wouldn’t have taken a ship anywhere on the calm, sunny day that greeted us. Better zones were found, friendly locals with sleds were met (as we could only afford the kitty and sled for the first day of our 3 day tent-venture) and the snow stayed cold even though it was sunny. One of my favourite moments was taking a photo of Jochen where he is barely visible, choked and blinded by the powder at the very top of his line. It didn’t really matter what you did here- a turn was a faceshot, or pointing it through the pillows caused powder explosions every landing. It was lucky that the lines up here were too short to present any serious exposure, lines could be scoped and sent with a ‘hold on through the powder blindness’ attitude, followed by hoots, hollers and high fives.
Neil discovering the morning man in himself
The ultra zone
Neil's last line of the trip
And then it was all over. We were packing up the tent and skiing back down to the road, which was one of the longest runs of my life. I knew I was touring fit by then because I could still enjoy the heavy snow at the bottom of the run with a heavy pack on. We had scored.
The long trudge out
A collage of memories form the trip, get at me on instagram, instagram.com/neilwilliman
Jochen stoked on the whole trip
The next film trip would be to the Whistler backcountry, with even more ups and downs than I could have imagined on the way. Our organisational skills and luck would be tested even more rigorously by my new acquaintance, the rough loving snow goddess of ski film trips. And for that story kiddies, you will have to wait until next time, because that’s enough excitement for one night.
These words were by me, Neil, and the pics by me, Jochen Mesle, Fabi Lentsch, Dani Regensburger and Simon Platzer.